By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, September 25th, 2010 at 11:45 am in Oakland Raiders.
If the Raiders are ever going to have Nnamdi Asomugha shadow the opposition’s best receiver, there is no time like the present.
In Larry Fitzgerald, Asomugha at some point will come face to face with the receiver whose skill set is most like his own. Over the next two games, Asomugha and the Raiders get Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson in succession.
“There is a handful of elite guys _ probably like five guys you’ll put up there, and these two are obviously at the top of that list,” Asomugha said when asked if he was facing the NFL’s two best receivers in successive weeks.
What makes Fitzgerald so good?
“Jut being able to play big and small, regardless of his size. A lot of times you get guys that areas big that can’t move,” Asomugha said, noting that Fitzgerald can move like smaller receivers such as Santana Moss and Wes Welker. “He’s got good hips, good breaks, all the stuff a smaller guy can do and he’s got the height to do with what big guys do. That puts him in his own class.”
Fitzgerald’s scouting report on Asomugha sounded like Asomugha’s scouting report on Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, isn’t used to having a cornerback (Asomugha is 6-2, 210) looking him directly in the eyes.
“The thing you see on tape for a man of his size, he has incredible hips and amazingly quick feet, and that’s just God given ability to be that tall and be able to move and cut and drive on balls the way he’s able to,” Fitzgerald said.
“You can tell he’s really a student of the game because he really understands formations and tendencies of the receivers he’s playing on a week to week basis.”
Fitzgerald and Asomugha are friends but their matchups have been limited to a few snaps in preseason and the Pro Bowl. When the Raiders played the Cardinals in 2006, Fitzgerald missed the game due to injury.
The question is whether the Raiders will actually have Asomugha guard Fitzgerald the majority of the time regardless of how the Cardinals line up on offense.
“I won’t get outside of what the call is and what the game plan is, but sure, here and there, I’ll be on him,” Asomugha said.
Although the defensive game plan will rest with John Marshall, Cable, when assessing the pros and cons of having Asomugha shadow a star receiver, sounded as if he is all for the idea.
“The pros are you feel confident about having your corner cover their receiver,” Cable said. “It puts him in a matchup that allows him to study that guy, prepare for that guy. I am not sure there are any negatives. The only thing is if you’re doing something the guy is not capable of doing. In this case, he is more than capable.”